The Philadelphia Phillies were expected to contend for a playoff spot this season. Their current last place position can be explained with facts, rather than shouted down with emotionally-based excuses.
Explanations, not excuses
No one who is honest would overlook the fact that both the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves are solid baseball teams. That point, ahead of all others, is the reason why both teams are way ahead of the Phillies in the National League Eastern Division standings.
Everyone who is fair-minded may also agree that the other information that is to be detailed in this section helps to explain why Philadelphia's baseball team is below .500 and currently in last place.
Chase Utley had been battling a previously undefined degenerative knee condition and didn't make his seasonal debut until late June.
Ryan Howard tore his left Achilles tendon at the exact moment that the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Phillies to win the National League Division Series last October. He had surgery, went through an extensive rehabilitation process, developed an infection that set-back his recovery and then finally returned to the major leagues in early July.
Roy Halladay strained his right lat muscle and was out of action from late May through mid-July.
Recently, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Hunter Pence was traded to the San Francisco Giants.
Carlos Ruiz, who was producing one of the best seasons that a Phillies' catcher ever has, was recently put on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis and is expected to be out of the lineup for at least another month.
Placido Polanco, who is currently on the disabled list, has been batting a variety of health issues since the spring.
One of the interesting sports' trends that I've noticed in recent years are the extreme expressions of some people who label themselves as 'fans'.
Many people simply enjoy following their team and naturally take pleasure in winning. Dysfunctional minds seem to find sour delight in the down seasons of their perceived opponents. They are more strongly against others, than they are for their own team. That's not reflective of balanced minds.
It can be easy to help people to unmask their intentions. All you need to do is ask these individuals to mention positive subjects and they will go on the attack. These people are likely behaving in the same manner toward their own families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others. (Be ready for them to also question the motives of those who are questioning them. It's a way to deflect answering for their own actions.)
Sports is entertainment. It offers the opportunity for a positive experience to be shared in a group setting, regardless of who wins. But, some poor souls are so misguided that they use sports as a weapon in response to whatever they think is missing within their own lives.
Baseball is just a game. The Phillies aren't going to win the division this season because the Nationals and the Braves are better teams. They (and their fans) have earned the right to enjoy their seasons.
I will be rooting for Bryce Harper and the Nationals, as well as for Chipper Jones and the Braves, this fall. Yes, I'm hoping that both teams qualify for the playoffs.
The Phillies are highly unlikely to capture either Wild Card spot because a number of National League teams are superior to them. Those teams and their fans also deserve respect moving forward.
Overly competitive personality types fight everyone, everyday. We should always try to reach out to these individuals if we can, because they need help. That serious point is far more important than any game, or any season.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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